New Album Update (Spoiler Alert)

Well, I’m just going to stop trying to predict when I’ll be done with this. I am still working on the completion of the 2nd album. Things are progressing but they are progressing slower than anticipated. Here’s a list of reasons, or as I like to call them, “excuses”.

1. The songs are complex, very. As an artist, I think it’s important to push the envelope in all directions. Saying that, a lot of the songs on the new album are pretty far outside of my musical comfort zone. I’m even taking my first stab at string arrangements. With every new song I create, I’m having to take a trip back to school and expand my knowledge in multiple areas; from voice, to theory, to songwriting, to production, and on down the line.

2. Life – I’m a relatively private person, so without revealing too much of my personal life, I have responsibilities outside of Munook; and they’re multiplying.

3. I’m an over analytical perfectionist – Because sometimes you have to listen to the 2nd verse of a song 100 times to make absolute sure the kick drum is well balanced, not too busy, robust, and thick.

4. (Spolier Alert) Munook is a One Man Band – I’m the lyricist, drummer, bass player, guitarist, songwriter, producer, vocalist, keyboardist, string arranger, etc. etc. etc. It takes a minute to put all the pieces in place when doing the job of 10 people.

-Spoiler Alert

I’ve also recently run into an interesting situation. Let me preface it with a short story. For YEARS I have been kicking around a title; like, over a decade. One that I thought had power, mystery, intrigue, etc. I wanted to use it as a band name in high school/college (don’t believe me, go ask Dirk South), as a song name, or as an album name but it never seemed fitting. When I sat down to create the 2nd Munook album, I thought it was finally time to use it. Ladies and Gentleman, the name of the 2nd album : The Phoenix Project

However, upon doing a google search last week, I found this – A campy looking, independent horror/thriller movie released just this year named, The Phoenix Project. Dude, seriously. I’m almost tempted to stick to my guns and keep it but given my need to be unique with my art, I’m about 85% sure I’ll be changing the name. Very disappointed – some really cool conceptual artwork had already begun, too.

On the upside – I have recently spoken with Dennis Calvert and the lovely girls at the  Cullman Ballet Theater School about collaborating with Munook to do a video for a new song. They’re excited and willing. Dennis, operating out of my same small town, does amazing Light Photography work that has recently been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records, Digital Photographer Magazine, and The Discovery Channel. We’re going to cook up some neat ideas and integrate them into a dance that will be choreographed by the girls at the Ballet School. Stay tuned.

ALSO – Some live dates are cropping up for the Summer. I’m going to break away from the studio and knock the dust of the live equipment to spread the good word of Munook to some new people in Georgia and the Carolinas. Stop by the tour dates page and check that out if you feel so inclined.

Alright. Carry on.

Making

Ariel School Phenomenon Documentary

First off, the new album is chugging along. I don’t feel the need to share every step of the way this time around. It’s shaping up nicely & I’m really excited!

In the meantime, something close to my heart has come up & needs your support. On September 16, 1994 in Ruwa, Zimbabwe over 60 school children experienced contact with two UFOs & their two occupants. Before you jump the gun & carry on about how ridiculous you think that is, I implore you to click here & watch this short video. If you feel so inclined, please dig deeper & research the subject. The event sparked the interest of Dr. John E. Mack who had recently come into the phenomenon after several of his psychiatry patients claimed to have experienced contact with “aliens”. Keep in mind, Dr. Mack was not a paranoid conspiracy theorist but a Pulitzer prize winning, Harvard Professor. Dr. Mack headed up a documentary to explore the children’s reactions & impressions of the event. The result is incredibly moving & very worth watching. Sadly, in 2004, while in London, John Mack was struck by a car as he was crossing the street & died. However, his work lives on through The John Mack Institute. The team behind the institute have taken up creating a NEW documentary, revisiting everyone involved in the experience including, most importantly, the children; 20 years later.

The Trailer can only be seen HERE – I implore you to watch it. This is a very important, REAL, & serious subject matter that needs to be ACCEPTED & explored. If not, we will continue to live our lives with horse blinders on, worried about all the wrong things. String Theory Films & The John Mack Institue need YOUR help to fund this project so it can be finished & distributed. Please visit THIS WEBSITE to help.

On a quick side note, the Munook song “Breaching” embedded below, used samples, with permission, from The John Mack Institute’s original Ariel School Phenomenon documentary. They want very badly for the message to get out & for John’s death not to be in vein. Thank you.

 

10458015_551890594920698_9067866652501794466_nSchool Playground area Where UFO was seen

b

Calling All Ears

While I’m working on new material, here are some very worthwhile artists I ran into over the course of 2013-2014 that you should definitely check out and support. Put it in your ear hole!

earhole

Apollo Mighty: I had the privilege of sharing a performance with him. This Dude can sing. An amazing R&B artists & a super humble guy. Dig it.

And The Echo: Had a show fall through with these guys; bummer. Now enamored with their amazing Synth Pop sound.

Don Lifted: Fiery poetry over avant-garde hip-hop. Proud to call this guy a friend. Check out his new album – Do it.

Zechariah Lloyd: Love this guy. Pure, simple, & honest. Mississippi incarnate. Passing this up is a great disservice to your ears.

Femke Widema: Singer-Songwriter, producer, lyricist, etc. etc. etc. Really talented, really hardworking; & quirky. Check her out!

Seymor Blue: Sadly, this band is recently defunct. Really haunting beautiful music that you have to let unfold and then savor; like wine.

Molly Cherryholmes: The violinist for her family’s grammy nominated bluegrass band, hats off to her for her bold new music!

Strange Waves: A really cool, folksy rock band. A big bold sound with meaty riffs and swampy grooves. Partake.

Fine Peduncle: This guy is a total freak; in a good way. Making music stylized and inspired by insects with a falsetto like Prince. Bizarre, but it works.

Opposite Box: These guys are nuts. Like, drunken pirate nuts; take that as you will. Played with them once upon a time & they blew my mind. Super talented & HIGHLY entertaining. Think Early Incubus meets Primus meets Grateful Dead. Bust your speakers.

Streaming – The Current State of Music Consumption

There is a lot of controversy amongst musical artists concerning the viability of streaming music services. While that is where music consumers are heading, and the customer is always right, streaming services are guilty of ludicrously low payouts to artists. To give you an honest idea, for 943 spins, Spotify paid me $2.30. Personally, I’d like to think my music is worth more than .003 cents per play. Pandora is a similar story. As everyone heard, Taylor Swift pulled her catalog from Spotify in protest and other artists have come forward to express their dissatisfaction throughout 2014. While this is understandable, unlike Taylor, I do not have a record label pushing my music across multiple mediums, so I can’t really afford to boycott a service that brings my music directly to you. A service becoming more and more popular as the days go by. Saying that, if you are going to stream music, do it legally and pay the small annual “premium fee” charged. This will increase the payout to people like myself & insure that musicians can continue to make music. Keep in mind, starting a “band” and creating an album is an entrepreneurial endeavor, and like any other business, it costs money to open the doors. There is an idea being perpetuated that online entertainment should be free. It’s a terrible notion whose ideology is in line with terms like “freeloading hippie” and “sense of entitlement”. While I realize that you are paying for your internet service and feel that should include the cost of things like music, keep in mind that the people you are paying, are paying me .003 cents per stream. I really don’t know where all of this is heading but the “market value” of the musician is way, way too low & quite frankly, being pimped out. I think people seem to forget that without musicians making music, there is no business. I guess all I can say is that if you have a favorite artist, purchase their full album, attend their live shows, purchase their merchandise, and share that $h!t all over the internet; because while the tools are changing, the business model of the media machine taking most of the musician’s pie slices is still in full effect.

 

New Friends Met Along The Way, Living & Learning – A Tour Wrap up

Here’s a not-so-brief synopsis of the recent live shows:

The hometown performance in Cullman was intimate. It being football Saturday in the South (can you hear my eyes rolling?), the last day the fair was in town, the kick-off of the local Octoberfest, & the CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival occurring the same night in close proximity (honestly had no idea that was going on until the night of, failure on my part), the turn out was less than expected. However, it was still fun & I thoroughly enjoyed the company & the other artists involved, which included; music from Dreamleaf, a live, interpretive painting from Purple Bristles, & a small art display from Nicky McCrary.

Birmingham, AL was a bit lackluster, unfortunately. To give you an idea, at the end of the night the sound guy said “I feel like a real dumb-ass for not connecting your wires properly, there was total phase cancellation going on.” Sigh. It was, in essence, an onstage rehearsal. A big thanks to Birmingham Mountain Radio’s show, Sweet Science, for letting Munook lead in a show & dropping some promo. Check out that particular program here. I think that Sun. at The Nick Rocks just isn’t the right platform for Munook. Granted, they are a very kind venue & will book any genre of music on any night of the week, & I highly appreciate that, but I have a hard time getting my fans to come out. Living & learning. The other musicians that accompanied me were pretty mind blowing, though. Lockheed Martian & Just Fiends displayed some technical wizardry that I sure learned from; definitely go check out their material. The dude was using an old Nintendo Gameboy to program & perform music with; really mind blowing. You missed it.

Memphis, TN was by far the stand out performance. I really can’t say enough good things about the artist that performed with me that night, Apollo Mighty. For starters, his talent as a vocalist is amazing; I don’t use that word loosely. I could go on & on. Aside from that, he’s a super nice guy who worked his a$$ off for weeks in advance to make sure people came out to the event, which they did! Other indie artists take note! Don’t expect anyone to promote for you! The concert was held in an art gallery within Crosstown Arts which I think is the fitting scenario for Munook. It’s a listening & observing scenario, not a bar with music as a background. On a special note, Apollo Mighty called in a sound guy, Don Lifted, who joined me during the performance as a second set of hands. It was an amazing addition & really made me & the music pop. Also graciously joining the evening was Gil Ngolé & Shuai Tong, two art students from the Memphis College of Art. Check out Gil’s live, interpretive soundscapes here, & check out Shuai’s photos on the main page & in the photo gallery. 5 out of 4 stars. Great new friends!

Nashville, TN’s performance fell on the night of the Blood Moon, the 2nd of a tetrad. Given that scenario, it was not surprising that things went awry. I went to great lengths to line up a bill for the evening that would include musicians who were well established & well worth coming out to see, Molly Cherryholmes & Femke Weidema. Go check out their music! To spare a long story in an already long-winded blog, communication errors with the venue, Foobar, lead to Molly & Femke cancelling. I ended up performing by myself. HOWEVER, I was absolutely enamored with the crowd & the venue by the time it was over! They were so nice, so supportive, & so receptive! They actually LISTENED to the music. I forget that Nashville is a music city & is therefore supportive of the art form. So aside from the adverse circumstances, it ended up going really well & I made a lot of new, genuine fans. Win! Still sad that I missed out on a performance with Molly & Femke, though. I have my sights set on making that happen eventually.

Florence, AL was a comforting experience, as always. The End Theater was the first venue to open their doors to me & give me my first gig; on Dec. 21st, 2012 mind you. They’re a great, comfy venue & very supportive of indie art. Can’t say enough good things about them. The other band that accompanied me that night was definitely of a different genre, but shared a love for songwriting & has an EPIC sound. Sincerely. They’re named Strange Waves & you should check them out. I was totally mesmerized by their talent & huge sound. Also, their drummer & lead singer are hilarious. Definitely not prima-donnas taking themselves way too seriously. On that particular night, I cut my performance short due to a lack of sleep, resulting in a lack of emotional depth in my performance. I know I sound naive, but touring is exhausting!

Thanks for helping & supporting. I’ll be doing it again sooner than later.

Live from The Nick - Birmingham, AL 2014

 

 

Upcoming Live Performances

2014 began with the creation of new material for a new album. Halfway through the year, that process was put on the back burner in order to organize some live shows. Beginning on Oct. 4th, Munook will be performing a handful of gigs in Tennessee and North Alabama – Please share the events amongst your friends and try to make it out. I’ve found several great musicians to share the stage with in each town & we’d love to see you make it out. The more the merrier.

No upcoming shows scheduled

Past Shows

24 Sep 2016 Munook & Deion Reverie Greensville, SC, South Carolina IPA Greenville IPA Greenville
23 Sep 2016 Munook, Nadia Vaeh, Deion Reverie, Emmy Law, Joshua Garmon Atlanta, Georgia The Music Room The Music Room
07 May 2016 Asheville, North Carolina Sol Bar Sol Bar
13 Feb 2016 Birmingham, AL Trim Tab Brewing Co. Trim Tab Brewing Co.
06 Feb 2016 Birmingham, AL Trim Tab Brewing Co. Trim Tab Brewing Co.
28 Dec 2015 Nashville, Tennessee Springwater Supper Club Springwater Supper Club
23 Oct 2015 Florence, AL The End. Theatre The End. Theatre
31 Jul 2015 Asheville, North Carolina The One Stop The One Stop
30 Jul 2015 Greenville, South Carolina IPA Greenville IPA Greenville
29 Jul 2015 Atlanta, Georgia Smith's Ole Bar Smith's Ole Bar
28 Jul 2015 Charlotte, North Carolina Crown Station Crown Station
24 Jul 2015 Nashville, Tennessee Rocketown - Flex Studio Rocketown - Flex Studio
21 Jul 2015 Florence, AL The End Theatre The End Theatre
17 Jul 2015 Savannah, Georgia The Sentient Bean The Sentient Bean
26 Oct 2014 Nashville, TN Foobar Foobar
09 Oct 2014 Florence, Alabama The End Theater The End Theater
08 Oct 2014 Nashville, TN Foobar Foobar
07 Oct 2014 Memphis, TN Crosstown Arts Crosstown Arts
05 Oct 2014 Birmingham, Alabama The Nick The Nick
04 Oct 2014 Cullman, Alabama Stiefelmeyer Building - Banquet Room Stiefelmeyer Building - Banquet Room

 

Live Oct. 2014

Joe Willingham, Real Country, and a Cactus Flower

I hesitated to post this, as I didn’t want to have it come off as tacky marketing, but in lieu of recent events, I feel that it would honor his memory and simultaneously provide some insight into the inner workings of Munook.

Just this week, my wife’s Grandfather, Joe Willingham, passed away. He lived a full life and taught everyone close to him the importance of steady, persistent, hard work as the only way to bring about results and satisfaction. At least that’s what he taught me.

The man ALWAYS wore a cowboy hat and in this day and age, one could go as far as to say he was indeed, a cowboy. He was quick to support his loved ones, was rarely distracted from his work, chivalrous, and had a Clint Eastwood attitude towards any punks feeling lucky. However, despite the genuinely rugged exterior, he was very caring and only wanted the best for everyone.

As the patriarch of his large family, most holiday gatherings tended to center around him and was more times than not filled with music. Live, Country music played by him, his family, and friends. Not early 90’s mainstream country, certainly not Talyor Swift’s “country”, but the real roots of the music form; Appalachian, old-time folk music developed in the 1920 and 30’s Southeastern United States, the era and region in which he came up as a child.

As a classically trained musician, I always appreciate the ORIGIN of music forms, in a high regard. I really hate the over glamorized, celebrity driven, money making machine it becomes, but I love the core of it. It’s soul. Joe’s love of country and the years of listening to him play REAL country with his friends and family inspired me to incorporate it into my own songwriting. There was something about it’s simplistic, story telling nature that really captured me. I’m constantly surrounded by musicians who feel the need to prove themselves by squeezing as many notes as possible into one measure of music, but listening to Joe play 3 simple chords and sing about coming home to his wife after a long day of work; had far more impact that any “musical juggling” I’d ever seen or heard.

So, the song “Cactus Flower” was born. It was my best attempt to integrate what I had learned from him about the the soul of roots country. In a small way, his spirit lives on through it. On a final, passing, but not insignificant note, some of you may know of my affinity for the supernatural and esoteric. In his final days, Joe was seeing people in the room that no one else could see. I believe him; I’d like to think that there is a thin veil in this world between what we think there is, and the great beyond. I dare say that I know there is. Enjoy.

Omar al Musfi to Join The Cast of New Album

Work on album number 2 is underway, albeit a slow pace at the moment. While I would like to keep a lot of the themes, titles, and directions under wraps, I will reveal this bit of info, as it’s too exciting for me not to share.

One of the new tracks in production deals with subject matter that lead me to Syria; and no, it is not a politically driven song. It’s inspiration is one of a more esoteric nature; we’ll leave it at that for now. In creating the music, I chose to go native and use Syrian Folk music scales, it was a challenge to say the least. Once the song’s core was developed, it was time to start adding to it; I wanted REAL Syrian percussion, from a REAL Syrian. Barring a long story, ladies and gentleman, Omar al Musfi has agreed to be a part of the song. The man is from Damscus, Syria. It doesn’t get much more Syrian than that. He is highly trained and skilled in various forms of Syrian percussion and has performed with the likes of Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project and Sting. He even hinted around at perhaps inviting some of his fellow Syrian musicians to be involved. He will record his parts at the Northern Illinois School of Music later this year. I’m very excited, honored, and humbled to be involved with such a great musician. More news later.